Here are answers to frequently asked questions that we receive at TechOWL.
TechOWL is the Assistive Technology Act program that serves the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We offer many programs and services to Pennsylvanians with disabilities. We have created this list of frequently asked questions to make your research about the programs offered at TechOWL a little easier.
1. How long can I borrow something from the lending library?
Our loan period is 5 weeks long. (iPads and Chromebooks are 9 weeks.) If you need more time you can contact us and ask for an extension. If there is no waiting list for the device/app we can extend the loan. If we cannot extend the loan because there is a waiting list, you can request the item again and we will put you on the waiting list.
2. How do I borrow from the lending library?
On our website you will see a tab labeled “Borrow” in the words on the top of the screen. Click on “Borrow”. There you will see a button in the middle of the screen that says, “GO TO THE NEW LIBRARY”. From there you can create an account, browse our inventory, and track your loan requests.
3. What if TechOWL does not have what I need in the lending library?
We are always adding new devices/apps to the lending library. Here is a link to a wish list where you can request that we add a specific item to the Assistive Technology Lending Library. New Item Request for Library
4. How do I receive the device? Do I have to pay for shipping?
All loaned devices will be shipped to your home directly from UPS. In the box you will find a return label (called a call tag) that is prepaid. TechOWL covers all shipping costs. The loan is completely free for you. Please do not throw away the box so that you can reuse it when your 9-week loan period is complete.
5. What am I responsible for?
Before you submit your loan request, you will be shown the fine print of our responsibility and liability statement. At this time, you agree to be responsible for:
- Proper handling and use of the device
- Return of all components to the library in a timely manner
- Notifying the library of any missing, broken, or malfunctioning equipment immediately
- Paying for items that you lose or break. You are not responsible for paying for damage that occurs during normal use.
You also verify that you understand TechOWL is not responsible for any injury that happens to you from using our devices.
1. What is AAC?
AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. It can be any tool, light tech to high tech, that is used to help someone communicate.
2. What is ACES?
ACES stands for Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Supports. This program is through the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. Historically, ACES has been an on-campus experience for AAC users to come together. While the on-campus experience is still in the works, ACES is currently offering online strands on various topics. Check the TechOWL website to see the upcoming strands.
3. Do you have AAC evaluations?
Yes! TechOWL does offer AAC evaluations, but it is not free. AAC evaluations are completed on a fee-for-service basis. The evaluation can be used to submit to insurance for an AAC device. If you want to learn about AAC, you can schedule a free conversation with an AAC specialist at TechOWL.
4. How much do AAC evaluations cost?
Typically, a formal evaluation through TechOWL to be submitted to insurance will cost around $300. This could be more depending on the situation.
5. How do I apply for ACES?
You can apply for ACES using the online application form (alternate formats available upon request). There are separate applications for the on-campus experience program and the online strands. Application availability depends on what programs are being offered currently.
6. How much does ACES cost?
The cost for ACES varies depending on the type of program and activities. Please contact us for the most up-to-date cost information. Past participants have obtained funding through a variety of sources; the ACES team is more than happy to help you explore your funding options.
7. When is the ACES application open?
Check back frequently for new ACES offerings and online strand programs. The application is currently closed for the on-campus experience. If you are interested in participating in the next on-campus ACES, please email us at ACES@temple.edu.
8. Where do I learn more about AAC?
You can learn more about AAC by visiting AACcommunity.net, a blog run by TechOWL staff specifically focused on AAC. There you can find many blog posts, recordings of presentations, event information and more!
1. How much does it cost to have trainings or presentations by TechOWL?
Training and presentations are usually FREE. TechOWL is a federally funded program and we are paid by the government to teach people about assistive technology. If your organization needs extensive or personalized presentations, there may be a cost but you would know that upfront.
2. How often can TechOWL present to my organization?
We allow organizations to request one presentation or training a year for free. If an organization wants multiple presentations or for TechOWL to organize a workshop series, we can discuss cost.
3. What topics does TechOWL cover in their trainings?
TechOWL personalizes each presentation that we give to the specific requests of the group or organization. A TechOWL staff member will reach out to get more details about goals and expectations of the group to make the presentation address all interests of the group.
1. How do I donate equipment to TechOWL?
Contact your local AT Resource Center from our locations list or reach out to the Reused Equipment project coordinator (email@example.com; 215-204-5974) to make donation arrangements.
2. How do I receive used equipment from TechOWL?
Contact your local AT Resource Center from our locations list or reach out to the Reused Equipment project coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org; 215-204-5974) for help finding the equipment you need.
3. What types of equipment do you accept / distribute?
Please check with the center nearest you to verify their guidelines. Examples of things that may be accepted include wheelchairs, communication devices, magnifiers, tablets, and adapted tools for daily living. We are not able to accept hearing aids, dialysis and oxygen machines, and disposable supplies such as diapers.
1. How do I apply for iCanConnect?
An application for the iCanConnect program can be found on our website.
Application can be submitted by email, mail or fax.
2. How do I know that I am eligible for iCanConnect?
Eligibility requirements are as follows: must have both significant vision and hearing loss and meet the program’s income guidelines. A professional must attest to your hearing and vision loss in writing.
3. What devices does iCanConnect offer?
iCanConnect gets people equipment to help them make a phone call, send an email, access the internet, or use other communications tools.
Devices may include mobile or landline specialized phones, desktop computers, laptops, braille notetakers, or specialized keyboards. The list of allowable equipment can be found on the National site - iCanConnect allowable equipment list
4. Does iCanConnect help me learn how to use the device?
Yes. Training is a component of the program. After we determine that you are eligible, you will be contacted to schedule an equipment assessment. After the assessment, equipment will be ordered for you. Our highly skilled trainers will install the equipment and begin developing a training plan specific to your needs.
1. How long does it take to get the free special phone?
Once the application is submitted and approved it could take 4-6 weeks to receive the phone in the mail. This depends on the availability of the equipment.
2. How do I know if I am eligible to get a free special phone?
There are several eligibility requirements to meet. Here is a link to the Free Phone website to see if you qualify.
3. Can I get a home phone and a mobile device?
Yes. You can request both a home phone and a mobile device!
4. Can I get a phone and a bed shaker?
An eligible applicant can request one piece of equipment (home phone and wireless device) and one signaler that meets their needs.
5. Do I have to give the phone back?
No. The phone is 100% your property.
6. What happens if the phone breaks? Can I get another phone?
Our vendors offer a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. After that year, the recipient is responsible to contact the vendor for repairs or a replacement. The recipient would be responsible for payment to the vendor.
7. What if my device is stolen?
The recipient can submit a police report and apply to receive a new piece of equipment.
8. When can I reapply for a free special phone?
Consumers can reapply every 3 years from when the consumer received their device. If you received your device on September 15, 2020, you can reapply on September 16, 2023.
9. Will TechOWL help me learn how to use the new phone?
TechOWL can assist you with 2 hours of one-on-one support after you have received the phone. This can happen over the phone, on a video call or in person depending on the situation.
1. If I have specific questions, how do I get in touch with TechOWL?
There are many ways to communicate with a TechOWL employee. TechOWL has staff that speak Spanish and use ASL. You can schedule a video meeting, call us at 800-204-7428, email us at TechOWL@Temple.edu, or live chat us on this website by using the red circle icon on the lower right corner of the screen. Topics that you can talk to TechOWL about range from vision, autism, seniors, communication, hearing, learning and more!
2. Is it free to talk to TechOWL staff?
Yes, it is completely free to speak to us and ask us about anything related to Assistive Technology. We serve all of Pennsylvania and want to make Assistive Technology easier for Pennsylvanians.
1. Does TechOWL have a program that can help fund Assistive Technology?
Yes. TechOWL has a micro grant of maximum $200 called “The Del Sordo Fund”. Del Sordo Fund online application
2. Can TechOWL help me find other funding for Assistive Technology?
Yes. TechOWL staff are familiar with many programs - like insurance, waiver funding and grants - and can try to help as best as they can to find other funding sources. Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation can also help with no interest or low interest loans for assistive devices.
3. What other ways does TechOWL help me get the Assistive Technology that I need?
If you have any more questions about our program please contact us and we will promptly and happily answer any questions that you may have.
1301 Cecil B Moore Ave Ritter Annex Suite 430 Philadelphia, PA 19122
ASL Video Call Appointment
Use the red circle icon on the lower right corner to chat live with a TechOWL staff member Monday - Friday from 8:30-4:30